Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting In

Odds of Success:

Stanford: Less than 30%
Columbia: 30%
Northwestern: Better than 40%
Chicago: Better than 40%
Yale: Better than 40%
NYU: 50%
Virginia: 50%
Georgetown: 60%

Sandy’s Analysis: In the past, Stanford has often admitted a minority woman, sometimes two, from the Big Four, often someone from a traditionally black college who was using the Big Four experience to get exposure to best business practices. Your performance at your Big Four firm will count a lot. You really need to get solid recommendations from those folks.

The fact you have a 700 GMAT (with a strong quant) will give most schools permission to take you if they like you, despite the low-ish GPA. Passing all parts of the CPA exam is more proof that you are a solid test taker. Your activity with LGBT organizations could be another plus.

For the sake of this analysis, I’m assuming you will not make the Olympics, although good luck. If you do, that is another super plus. And obviously being at near Olympic level and having been on a Division 1 track team is a plus—especially for all us couch potatoes (that would be most Adcoms and John Byrne). I myself have been known to dash off a mile in near 11 minute, which is actually pretty good for a geezer. Derrick Bolton’s (the Stanford Adcom) Facebook picture looks pretty buff (or did– He may have changed it) and Dee Leopold, the royal decision maker at HBS, has been known to walk around Walden Pond with great speed in high heels.

The fact that you are now a personal trainer can be overlooked because of the Olympics story, although you would be better off sponsored by some company like FedEx. As a rule, being a personal trainer is not a gateway to MBA admissions. The key for you will be to make sure that decision to leave the Big Four was driven by the absolute need to train for the Olympics and that you are not using the Olympics as an excuse to quit when your chances are really remote. Aren’t most Olympic hopefuls sponsored? You really have to make that clear (assuming you don’t make the team.)

Your chances at Stanford are 30 percent, although your odds could go up if you are really backed by your Big Four firm. Columbia doesn’t get pre-Olympic fever so I’d assess your chances there at about 30 percent as well. Generally, your odds for the schools you picked are 40 percent to 60 percent. In each case, add 20 points if you have strong backing from the Big Four firm and another 20 points if you make the Olympic team.

If you get both, lady, you are going to Stanford.

Mr. Ski Resort (Ricky Grand)

  • 700+ GMAT
  • 3.45 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from the University of Oregon
  • Was customer service manager at a ski resort for two years before becoming a mortgage consultant for the past three years
  • Extracurricular involvement includes being a freshmen business student mentor and a teacher’s assistant
  • Will be the first in his family to graduate from a four-year institution
  • 28 years old

Odds of Success:

Stanford: Forget it
Columbia: Ditto
Dartmouth: More ditto
NYU: 10%
Cornell: 10%
Yale: 10%

Sandy’s Analysis: Guys like you don’t typically go to MBA programs. They work for four years and then go to Executive MBA programs after they have used their college degree to pivot into more classy jobs than the ones you have had. Not that there is anything wrong with being a customer service manager or a mortgage consultant—those are just not typical feeder jobs to schools you list

Your chances at Stanford and Columbia are pretty much zilch. There is nothing driving you in, and those places are ultra hard headed. Your chances at Tuck, Yale, NYU, and Cornell are zilch, plus a Hail Mary, for much the same reasons.

All your extras and family background are positives, but they won’t overcome the unusual jobs and low-ish grades, even assuming a 700 GMAT. You can raise the odds by finding some goal statement, which syncs up with experience, maybe as a mortgage broker, but that is a toxic space these days, another piece of bad karma for you. Those schools are going to be hard, as attractive as your personal story is.